If you are going to do Alcatraz, I suggest doing the earliest tour possible. At the time of writing this – that’s the 8:45. I also suggest skipping the little ranger talk they give you when you first arrive.
They’ll tell you it’s mandatory – it’s not.
And the only valuable piece of information they give you is the location of the bathrooms. Really, it’s just a diversion to leave space between you and the group in front of you – and if you happen to be on the first tour, AND you skip that, you will be alone in the prison, which I promise, is the way to see it.
We got stuck on the 9:10 ferry because I kept forgetting to buy the tickets. Oh – and buy tickets ahead. We almost waited till we got there, just to make sure we didn’t get hung up on the way with my free-floating itinerary – but even at 8am, they already had signs everywhere that tours were sold out for the day.
The ferry ride isn’t long. Before you know it, you are stepping onto the iconic island.
It’s a steep hike up to the beginning of the tour. If you can’t handle steep, they have a tram. We arrived to the top out of breath and on the heels of the group who landed prior to us, but well ahead of the group we rode over with.
We got our audio tour headphones – my kids were grossed out by the sharing of devices – but you have to get one. It’s the only way to hear the story, unless you book a personal tour, and you can go at your own speed.
We’ve been here before, and the kids were a little underwhelmed. The youngest read a book on the prison and escapes just prior to arriving and he felt like he already knew it all.
We caught a ferry back, hopped in an uber and headed up to Chinatown.
As you might expect, there are a plethora of Chinese restaurants in this neighborhood. We went with Sam Wo – because even though it’s not in the original location and Edsel “Ford” Fung is no longer there, it’s a bit of an icon.
The food was outstanding. Service was great. And even though it’s a bit of a dive, we got a great sampling of Chinese fare.
We strolled around a bit, hoping to hop a cable car. They were full, and I almost died trying to hike up higher to get one.
The pics of kids with hairy lips is from Dragon Beard Candy. It’s a peanuty-chewy-dry sensation that gets more interesting as you eat it. This is one of three places in the country that hand makes it. You can read more about it here.
As we strolled backed down towards Pier 27 (where we were parked), we accidentally happened upon the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie AND ESPN was inside filming for commercial intro footage. Watching the girl form the cookies was positively mesmerizing.
Eventually we made it back to the car and got it back only 15 minutes late to the rental location. The rest of the evening we just kinda hung out, did laundry and watched the sunset over the Pacific.